Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards

May 18, 2018

June 30, 2018


Awards Description

The Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards are all about helping young entrepreneurs take their sustainability initiative to the next level.

We are living in a world where temperatures are rising, water shortages are more frequent, food supplies are increasingly scarce and the gap between rich and poor is increasing. Populations are growing fast, making basic hygiene and sanitation even more of a challenge.

We can overcome these challenges and build a bright future for everyone, if we work together. But to do this, the world needs a plan. These Awards recognise 18 to 35 year olds who are putting ideas into action.

Why are we doing all this? We see a big opportunity: to support, inspire, reward and collaborate with a new generation of the world’s most brilliant young changemakers; innovators who are the future of sustainability. Imagine what we can achieve together.

We are looking for innovative and scalable technologies or initiatives that are contributing to one or more of these four categories:

Farm to Table

In this category, we are looking for inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on sustainable initiatives relating to food and drink production right through to consumption.

We are looking for entrepreneurs who can demonstrate innovation that not only protects the planet’s natural resources, but will help to transform our food systems, offering a long-term approach that can create value and enhanced livelihoods for farmers, and ensure security of supply for the long-term. Entries should ensure issues such as deforestation and land use, alongside social and community issues are managed responsibly. You may be working with smallholder farmers to improve their environmental practices across their supply chain, or helping them with social programmes such as access to education, community empowerment initiatives or encouraging young people into agriculture.

However, it’s not all about sustainable agriculture – we also want to hear from entrepreneurs who are working in the area of food and drink consumption and nutrition. You may be working to inspire and inform people about sustainable nutrition or helping them to make better choices. Perhaps you are creating food and drink products that support the long-term health of people and the planet.

Opportunities for Women

We are seeking initiatives that help to tackle the discrimination and disadvantages millions of women face around the world. You might be working to help provide access to skills and training for women, and creating opportunities for women to actively, safely and fairly participate in the economy.

Alternatively, you might be working on a micro-enterprise initiative to help women on low-incomes escape poverty. From Australia to Zimbabwe, if you are creating opportunities for women somewhere in the world, we want to hear from you!


Are there entrepreneurs out there with ingenious initiatives that help to tackle waste – to reduce, reuse or recycle waste throughout the pre-production, production and consumption lifecycle? Initiatives should demonstrate a clear business (financial), consumer (benefit), social and environmental case.

We are looking for initiatives across the waste spectrum – not just initiatives tackling packaging waste. For example, you could be developing an ingenious solution to reduce or rethink the choice of materials in production phase, or running a project that helps improve the livelihoods of people who are working in waste collection, or working on a recycling incentive scheme that is set to revolutionise the way a country tackles their waste issue, or an idea to reuse waste materials.

If it’s about tackling waste of any sort, we want to hear from you!


Are you working on an initiative that tackles water scarcity, or one that addresses water pollution or sanitation and hygiene issues?

We are looking for solutions that conserve or reduce the amount of water used across communities, or during the extraction or cultivation of raw materials or through manufacturing processes. Perhaps you have an initiative that is helping people and organisations better manage access to water and adopt tools and behaviours which help them use less in the home or in a business?

Individuals in the developing world can be healthier—and communities more productive—if they have access to clean water and better sanitation. We are also seeking entrepreneurs with initiatives that address how to improve hygiene practices in any country, or offer an innovation to improve access to sanitation in remote areas.

How to enter

What to enter?

We’re looking for initiatives relating to one or more of the four categories we’re focusing on: Farm to Table, Opportunities for Women, Waste and Water. Whether it’s with an initiative, product or service, if you’ve gone beyond the initial concept and started to make an impact, we want to hear from you.

Who can enter?

Anyone from around the world, aged between 18 and 35 (as of 30 June 2017), who is working on an initiative in one of our four categories; Farm to Table, Opportunities for Women, Waste and Water. Your initiative must have already progressed beyond the idea stage and started making an impact.

How to enter?

To submit your entry, you’ll need to create a profile and complete the application form. You’ll need to tell us all about your initiative’s story so far, and your vision for its future. The more you can share, the better.

Guidelines & Criteria


  • The competition is open to founders or co-founders, aged between 18 and 35 (as of 30 June 2017), of initiatives from any part of the world with the exception of those based in Russia, due to local data protection laws.
  • Initiatives must relate to one or more of the categories: Farm to Table, Opportunities for Women, Waste and Water.
  • Entries must have grown beyond the conceptual stage to include actions the applicant has already taken – whether through informal networks, via an existing institution, or by creating a new enterprise.
  • Entries cannot be accepted from current Unilever employees, nor can entries promote Unilever or its products, however, the entrepreneur may have worked with Unilever in the past or may be working with Unilever currently as a third party supplier.
  • Entries must be submitted in English.
  • Entrants must be available to attend the Accelerator Programme in Cambridge from Friday 27th October, and subsequent events in London the following week.


Entrants will be assessed on:

  • Initiative summary: You should describe your initiative succinctly, and communicate a compelling narrative that makes it stand out from the rest.
  • Team: We are looking for founders / co-founders who are aspirational as well as inspirational, demonstrated through their dedication to making their venture work. Show us how you will, or are already building a team who can support your venture now and in the future.
  • Impact: Explain how your solution measures impact through both quantitative and qualitative data. The best solutions will demonstrate social, economic, and environmental impact.
  • Business model, including:
    • Financial plan and growth: You should describe how your initiative is currently financially supported, as well as your vision for growth and scaling up. This should include a plan for how you will fund your initiative’s growth, and how you aim to achieve a sustainable financial model. The strongest entries will outline how your solution can be sustained without reliance on philanthropic donations or aid for core funding when established. Entries from for-profit, non-profit as well as new units of existing organisations will be considered.
    • Innovation and competitor awareness: We want you to show us a degree of novelty, whether an existing initiative in a new context or delivering a different outcome, or a different approach to a known problem. Innovation is distinct from invention by progressing from the lab into a real world context with market applicability. This means your entry must demonstrate an awareness of competitors and alternative solutions and how your approach differs.

Entries will also be evaluated on:

  • How the Awards process and prizes would impact the success of the initiative.
  • How effectively the entrepreneur is able to engage with relevant communities and stakeholders to realise the potential of the solution.
  • How the level of ambition is underpinned by the capability to deliver.


Applications must be submitted online through the Awards website. The competition opens on 18th May 2018 and closes at 11:59 BST on 30th June 2018.

Only individual entries are accepted. If your initiative has multiple founders, only one person can enter the competition. Prizes will be awarded to individuals only and we cannot accommodate co-founders in the competition process. Co-founders may, however, take part in the on-going mentoring process if the winning individual agrees to this.

Finalists will be announced in September 2017. They will then be contacted by the Awards team to review their learning needs for the Accelerator Programme.

There are a number of events to which all finalists must commit: Attendance is required at the Accelerator Programme in Cambridge from Friday 27th October, and all finalists must attend the Awards Prize Event in London, UK, at which the ‘HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize’ will be awarded to the stand-out entrepreneur across all the categories.

As part of the amazing opportunity offered to finalists, the cost of travel to the UK and accommodation during your stay in Cambridge and London will be covered by the competition.

Support is provided to all Award winners and will be designed and structured around individual requirements through the online programme and for the 12 months following announcement of the prizes.

About the prizes

The Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards will recognise up to eight winners in 2017. Two finalists in each of the four categories will be selected from a video interview process and invited to an Accelerator Programme in Cambridge, where they will work with experts from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Unilever and other guest experts.

A winner will be selected out of each of the four categories. Those category winners will go forward to pitch to a guest judging panel who will then decide on the overall winner of the 2017 competition. The overall winner will receive the ‘HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.’

All will attend a special prize event hosted in London.

  • The winner of the ‘HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize’ will receive a €50,000 cash award and one-to-one mentoring support tailored to their specific needs for a duration of 12 months.
  • The category winners will receive a €10,000 cash award and one-to-one mentoring support tailored to their specific needs for a duration of 12 months.
  • The category finalists will receive a €7,000 cash award and one-to-one mentoring support tailored to their specific needs for a duration of 12 months.

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